In November 2016, Massachusetts residents elected to legalize recreational marijuana for adults over 21. For some time now, the plan has been to have the industry up and running by July 1, 2018. However, the date has come and gone without much forward momentum towards actualizing the recreational market. Several factors have been holding up the process and while some are optimistic that it may be up and running by the end of summer, it seems that it may take up until the end of the year to see the industry completely up and operational.
Delays Due to Zoning
A major hold up has been due to delays created by municipalities when it comes to deciding upon local regulation and zoning laws. In some places, local law is not expected to be finalized until September. At this point, the marijuana business owner may apply for local permits. Once approved, they may move on to applying for the appropriate state recreational marijuana license. Like some other industries such as universities and gaming, a Host Community Agreement will need to be signed. The paperwork for the agreement will involve estimating how much the local industry will cost the area in police, signs, traffic lights and any other area of impact. This is a process unto itself that can take some time to finalize. Until a local permit is received, the details for this agreement cannot even begin to be discussed.
Cannabis Ban Extensions
On top of this, Attorney General Maura Healey has allowed some municipalities the power to extend the ban on marijuana. Places that had a majority of voters against legalizing the plant can extend the ban on marijuana until June 19th, creating more delays for some. Some businesses have had to close due to the high cost associated to making it through all of the delays. For those with a medical marijuana license and a lot of funding, the process has been easier. For businesses on hiatus as they wait, paying rent and other costs, the toll has been heavy and in some cases disabling.
Distribution of Licenses
Although the first cultivation license was given to Milford’s Sira Naturals and the first retail license has now been distributed to Cultivate Holdings in Leicester, there are still many more applications and marijuana business owners who have been working to become part of the industry. Yet no licenses have been distributed to testing labs. Under the state law, all recreational marijuana has to be tested before being distributed and sold. Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission have now made the distribution of a testing license its top priority.
Right now, residents can legally possess up to an ounce of the flower and 5 grams of concentrate. It is legal to grow the plant and have up to 10 ounces at home as long as it is securely locked up. While it is still not available to buy from any retail outlets, the state is committed to having the industry up and running as soon as possible. Forward movement for the industry and its infrastructure only seems to be a matter of time.